Wednesday, 18 October 2017

US GP Betting Preview - Lone star in the Lone Star State?

On one level calling this weekend's US Grand Prix at Austin looks a no brainer.

Will it be a close fight between the big three teams?
Photo: Octane Photography
Lewis Hamilton is a Texan specialist, with four wins from five races here. He also is in formidable recent form - winning five from the last seven. Plus the circuit, the first two thirds of it at least, should suit the Mercedes. And 9/10 for Lewis to triumph looks reasonable value.

But dig a little deeper and things may not be that simple in any case. The final part of the COTA lap may not suit the Merc plus tyre warm up can be tricky at Austin - something that on 2017 experience will give the silver squad's engineers a shudder.

Plus its two closest rival teams will enter the weekend with optimism. It's easy to lose sight of that the Ferrari's still looked quick in recent weeks when it's not been breaking down; COTA has a bit of everything about both its layout and its temperatures and these should play into the hands of the versatile red machine. And its reliability woes have to end sometime, don't they...?

Fastest cars on the planet in 2017, by Multilotto

2017 is the year of the ultimate Speed freak. Gone are the days when 200 mph was the holy grail of motoring. Today there are many cars which have breached this once impossible threshold. Indeed, some of the fastest cars of 2017 completely obliterate 200 mph. It seems 2017 has thrown up a new unreachable target, the lords of asphalt are now on a mission to create a mind boggling 300 mph, road legal car.

Here, Multilotto have put together a list of the fastest cars on the planet in 2017. With the price tag which comes with these dream Hypercars, a lottery win is the only way that most of us will be able to afford one of the oh so beautiful beasts.

Sit back, relax, and dream the impossible dream.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Austin Preview: Taking care of business

Unfinished business. The itch it couldn't scratch. Call it what you will, it applied to America for much of F1's history.

F1 has at last found a good home in the US - at Austin
Photo: Octane Photography
The world's largest economy, sports mad and likely unparalleled in its attachment to the automobile; add that F1 purports to have a world championship. Yet somehow for years it didn't amount to pitching a tent Stateside that wouldn't fall down upon contact with the slightest gust of wind.

Demonstrating as much there have been no fewer than ten US F1 hosts (no other country gets close). Contrary to some presumptions F1 did previously get it right in the States, with well-established and popular rounds at Watkins Glen and Long Beach. Both were lost in the early 1980s.

Of the other attempts, some of them have been cringe-worthy; for stretches there was no US round at all. In advance of the latest go in Austin a few expected more of the same.

Yet when everyone arrived for the first time in 2012 the doom-mongers simply could not have been more wrong.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Japanese Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Deja vu all over again

At Suzuka it was deja vu all over again.

Photo: Octane Photography
Really. For the third race in a row Ferrari compromised itself from the first beat. And Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes helped themselves to a big points gain. Now the destination of the drivers' title their way looks certain.

For Motor Verso I give my take on it all, and shoehorn a few more Yogi Berra lines...

You can have a read via this link: http://www.motorverso.com/japanese-gp-2017-report-deja-vu/

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Malaysia Grand Prix review for Motor Verso - Let's twist again

Sepang International Circuit Grandstand Tower 2016 Malaysian GP
By Morio (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://
creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)],
via Wikimedia Commons
A little belated (and to some extent overtaken by events) but here's my review of the Malaysia GP for Motor Verso - a weekend wherein F1 said 'let's twist again...like we did last summer...'

You can have a read via this link: http://www.motorverso.com/malaysia-gp-2017-report-lets-twist-again/

Do check out the Motor Verso site too; you'll find motoring news, car reviews and features - the team on the site carry out week-long test drives of the latest cars - as well as photos and videos of the machines.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Japanese GP Report - When things run away from you

It was deja vu all over again. Literally. In the Japanese Grand Prix for the third race in a row Ferrari was compromised from the first beat. For the third race in a row (in fact more than that) Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes made a major points gain. And now we're in the endgame.

No wonder he's smiling - in Suzuka Lewis Hamilton
all but wrapped up his fourth drivers' title
Photo: Octane Photography
This time it was a spark plug problem for Sebastian Vettel. Just as with Kimi Raikkonen in Malaysia, the Ferrari mechanics were frantic on the grid around Seb's car. Such reliability niggles are becoming a habit.

Unlike Kimi in Sepang Seb got going but the extent of his problem soon was evident. Max Verstappen ambushed him for P2 at the hairpin first time through, then Esteban Ocon, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas all swamped him on the pit straight next time past.

Quickly he was pulled in to retire, and Vettel later spoke like a man who knew the championship was gone.

"I think I need to protect them," he said of his team. "We've done an incredible job this year, it's like that sometimes.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Does Kimi Räikkönen have what it takes to make up points on the leaders? By Steven Critchley

Ten years ago a champion, today a relative also-ran. Kimi Räikkönen is perhaps one of the most underrated racers in the roster today. And with Finland's record for producing F1 talent, it may pain him particularly to see a less-experienced countryman – in Valtteri Bottas – occupying a coveted Mercedes car. Naturally, where Räikkönen's title win of 2007 is concerned, cynics would be quick to point out that it was won by just a single point, and afforded him in some part by a period of indifferent form for both McLaren drivers. Today, a long win-less run, spanning back to the 2013 season opener in Australia, as reported on BBC Sport, stands out as particularly galling for Räikkönen. Yet, until his retirement at the Spanish Grand Prix, Räikkönen's early 2017 form on was strong and consistent.

‘Kimi Räikkönen’ by Mark McArdle
via Flickr (CC-BY-SA-2.0)
Whether Sebastian Vettel's continued dominance over his team mate is part of some intricate Ferrari strategy remains to be seen, but as of 24 May 2017, where he is an 80/1 outsider (Source: Betway Sports), Räikkönen's ability to mix it with the elite remains firmly in question. Naturally, in light of the downturn in form he suffered at the end of 2016, with two retirements in the final four races, most experts would have dismissed Räikkönen's title hopes long before even the pre-season tests of 2017 began. These same 'experts' could forever analyse Räikkönen's situation, but the sole fact remains obvious – Räikkönen must begin winning races, and quickly.

Suzuka Qualifying - Rising star

So reports of Mercedes's F1 death were greatly exaggerated.

Yes to an extent a bounce back was expected. Suzuka, particularly its full noise final part, would suit it. The temperatures - unlike the previous two rounds - were cool, and this the Merc loves. But given recent flailing, much of it unanticipated, no one was taking anything for granted.

Mercedes, and especially Lewis Hamilton, reasserted
control in Suzuka qualifying
Photo: Octane Photography
From an early part of the qualifying hour it looked a familiar story though - Lewis Hamilton and his Merc well on top. He converted his advantage too, taking a pole as balmy as is possible in such circumstances, by a third of a second. It is, astonishingly at this drivers' track, his first ever pole here of his 71.

"I never ever really got a great balance in the past so I never did great in qualifying," Lewis noted afterwards.

"So to finally get the balance behind me with the great work of my engineers and the great timing from all the mechanics, I finally got on track and did the time.

"And the car is crazy here, I wish you could feel it.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Inside Line F1 Podcast - Why Microphones To Enhance F1 Engines Sounds Is A Good Idea

Is Formula 1 going too artificial by thinking of introducing ceramic microphones to enhance the sounds of the F1 engines? Or is it an acceptable solution from a sports broadcast point of view? Unlike the DRS, this is one solution that we don't mind supporting the sport for.

In this week's episode of the Inside Line F1 Podcast, we wonder if the race organisers of the Malaysian Grand Prix blurted out the absolute truth about the sport, while also claiming that they wouldn't play host to Formula 1 even if it was offered for free! Ouch!

We discuss Paul Hembrey's idea of introducing 'mini cups' along side the World Championship to make the longer seasons more interesting and Graham Keilloh's novel idea of crowning the driver with the maximum race laps led as that season's Drivers' Champion.

And then of course, we have our usual McLaren-Honda section, along with a much-needed one for Daniel Ricciardo. As we look forward to Suzuka, let's hope Ferrari's engines don't hit Honda mode yet again.

(Season 2017, Episode 33)

Subscribe to the Inside Line F1 Podcast on iTunes and audioBoom for your weekly dose of Formula 1 humour.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

New Motorsport Week article: Why Formula 1 should get rid of blue flags

BlueFlagNASCAR2010Bucyrus200RoadAmerica
By Royalbroil (Own work) [CC
BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativec
ommons.org/licenses/by-sa/
3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
The Malaysian Grand Prix weekend was extraordinary. Not so much in thrills necessarily, but in providing things to talk about.

And one from late in the race got me - that Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso had their latest minor spat. This time as Alonso waited a few corners before letting Vettel by to lap him.

Nothing personal to Seb, but it's long been a hobby horse of mine that F1 could do without blue flags. Keep them as advice by all means, but we'd benefit in a number of ways if those lapped were not forced to leap out of the way pronto.

In my latest article for Motorsport Week I argue this case. You can have a read here: https://www.motorsportweek.com/news/id/16036

Japanese GP Betting Preview - Turning Japanese

F1's battles at the front in recent times have been three way between Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull. And the Japanese round this weekend once again in advance feels a close call between the trio - all approach the round with some reason for hope.

Will the 'big three' teams be evenly
matched again at Suzuka?
Photo: Octane Photography
Sebastian Vettel's Ferrari will not now be taking a gearbox grid drop in Japan, which brings him right back into the game. He has after all been the pace-setter in both of the previous two rounds, and more encouragingly for him the two tracks had very different demands.

It's not clear if the bookies have noticed - or perhaps they've noticed Ferrari's concurrent habit of treading on its own tail. Seb's 14/5 to win in Japan looks generous.

They have noticed Red Bull's improved form though, with Max Verstappen at a much tightened 5/1 (readers of the Malaysia betting preview will know Max could have been backed at 25/1 for his Sepang win) and Daniel Ricciardo at 7/1 to triumph this time. Flowing Suzuka will suit the RB13 - a few think Red Bull again has the best chassis in F1. If you fancy playing safer then Max is at 3/4 and Daniel 11/10 to get on the podium.

Monday, 2 October 2017

Suzuka Preview: Big in Japan

They don't make 'em like they used to.

It's not always true, but it sometimes is. It certainly is with Suzuka, the welcome stop-off for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix.

Inimitable Suzuka
Photo: Octane Photography
Whatever the newer venues' merits none have got even close to quickening the pulse when cars circulate as they do at this venue. Not all that many of the older tracks have either.

The layout is dominated by challenging, snaking, undulating turns - the sort that separate the great from the good; the sort that would most likely be laughed out of court were they proposed now from the ground up.

The narrow circuit's challenge is like walking an ever-veering tightrope. There aren't vast run-off areas to use as a benign get-out. Precision counts.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Malaysia GP Report - Max power

Rarely can an F1 weekend have contained so many twists. There were planety on Friday and Saturday. And the Malaysia Grand Prix's Sunday had plenty more.

Max Verstappen reminded us of his star
quality with a crushing win
Photo: Octane Photography
And quickly. The first was before the race even started, as Ferrari sank further into its recent quagmire. Kimi Raikkonen reported a power loss on the way to the dummy grid, which proved terminal. He didn't start.

But in another twist this did not give us a Lewis Hamilton benefit run. Mercedes's worries about lacking race pace were founded. Max Verstappen's Red Bull hounded leader Lewis from the off, sailed down the inside of the first turn after four laps, then left him.

On lap 12 he was five seconds up the road; on lap 18 it was nine. Almost like he was driving a Mercedes. He was never seen again.

"I think in the beginning, straight away the car felt good," said Verstappen later.